ISLAMABAD: After the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) decided to abandon the idea of laying siege to Islamabad and announced to hold a ‘thanksgiving rally’ at the Democracy Park and Speech Corner instead, many speculated that the party will not be able to fill the large space with workers.
However, the PTI cordoned off a portion of the space on Wednesday for the rally which gave the impression that hundreds of thousands of supporters had participated in the rally.
Last month, the PTI decided to lay siege to Islamabad on Nov 2 and a day before he was supposed to lock down the city, Imran Khan had announced the party will be holding a ‘thanksgiving rally’ instead as the Supreme Court had promised a commission will look into the Panama Papers leaks.
A large number of people came to Islamabad from across the country on Wednesday to participate in the rally, though not all of them were in favour of abandoning the earlier plans.
Talking to Dawn, a PTI supporter from Lahore, Sajid Ali said he was not in favour of agitation.
Residents of I-8 sector, however, say no more public gatherings should be allowed in the area
“I think the PTI should have called off its 2014 long march and there was no need for saying Islamabad will be locked down. However, I support Imran Khan because he is the better option,” he said.
A student of mechanical engineering at the International Islamic University, Farmanuddin, who belongs to Upper Dir, said he was in favour of Imran Khan’s decisions.
“However, the presence of so many law enforcement officials in the city since Imran Khan decided he will lock down the city was annoying,” he said.
Another PTI supporter, Hazir Khan, who works at a local restaurant and belongs to Peshawar, said that the PTI leader had made a good decision to wait for the court’s final decision before protesting.
Mohammad Nabi from Girja Road Rawalpindi, who works in an embroidery shop, said the PML-N government had not handled the situation properly.
“PML-N leaders hold a press conference after Imran Khan makes any allegation. They should have held a press conference this time as well and shown evidence of Nawaz Sharif’s innocence,” he said.
The section of Democracy Park and Speech Corner separated for the event had multiple entry points, all installed with walkthrough gates and the gathering of such a large crowd also provided some with business opportunities.
Hameed Raza sells fried foods at the Rawalpindi Vegetable Market and came to Islamabad on Wednesday to sell pakoras. He said he prepared Rs50 and Rs100 worth of pakoras and made good money. Many other people could be seen selling cold drinks and mineral water.
The residents of I-8 were most affected by the rally near Parade Ground, with some saying no more public gatherings should be allowed in the area in the future.
A retired government servant Zafar Ali told Dawn that PTI workers were chanting slogans till two in the morning Tuesday night due to which residents of the area could not sleep.
“I wake up for midnight prayers, which is why I sleep after praying isha normally. But I could not get enough sleep last night. My grandchildren did not go to school because they could also not sleep. It is strange to allow a political event near a residential area,” he said.
Another resident of the area, Mohammad Hanif said that traders and politicians can afford to not sleep at night as they can wake up later but government officials like himself have to be at work by eight in the morning and need their sleep.
When asked about the parade on Pakistan Day, Mr Hanif said that parade is held during the day and is not as inconvenient.
“The roads are closed on March 23 but we do not mind as much due to the holiday. It was a working day on Wednesday and the main road remained closed due to the crowd and residents had to use alternate routes,” he said.
Babar Khan, who works for a travel agency in I-8 and lives in I-9, pointed out the vehicles parked in Kachnar Park in I-8, the owners of which had crossed the Islamabad Highway to the rally on foot.
Published in Dawn November 3rd, 2016